My first year as a worm grower was quite the experience. The kids had a blast, we all learned a lot, plus I turned my garbage into this amazing soil. So all in all I give the experience an A despite the learning curve in the beginning. Let me show you a few important pointers that I learned when starting your own adventures in vermicomposting!
Almost exactly a year ago today I shared my first PreppDay Wednesday post, Grow Some Worms! complete with a DIY Worm Bin tutorial. I showed how you can easily, and cheaply, make a 3-tier worm bin from plastic containers like the one I use.
I still like the 3-tiers because it allows for 2 stages of production and the third catches the infamous Worm Tea. However after seeing this 4-tier system made from 5 gallon buckets I think I might add a fourth!
#1 thing I’ve learned along the way…you can overfeed your worms. And over water them. And your bin can stink from doing this. No one likes a stinky bin. The reason this was happening is I wasn’t following the 3 to 1 Rule: Meaning 3 parts Browns to 2 parts Greens. I liked adding a lot of Greens.
Red worms enjoy, and can tolerate, a watery soil but if you think you’ve added too much water just add LOTS more browns and put the hose down.
#2…Bury the food you add to your bin. In other words don’t just put it on top of the dirt and add the lid back on. I found this out the hard way. You see I’d send the kiddo’s out to “feed the worms” with scraps left from dinner prep and thought they were mixing it in. Until I went to feed the worms and fruit flies were having a party in there! We now have a designated Worm Stick that can easily fold the food into the dirt. Problem solved.
#3…Worm Tea needs to brew. If you have a collection bin to collect this precious commodity (have you seen the cost of this at a farmers market?!!) do not think the first time you find liquid in your bottom bin you’ve hit the jackpot. In fact this first cycle contains only partially processed nutrients. Go ahead and re-water your worms with it and after a few weeks or so you’ve got fully-brewed tea.
#4…Worms are picky eaters. For instance my worms LOVE watermelon rind and leave the asparagus spears for last. Worms also prefer the food you give them to be cut into small pieces. Jeesh. They’re beginning to remind me of my 2 year old. Truthfully, they can just process the food quicker the smaller it is. The quicker the process the less chance of a stinky bin so cut up those broccoli stems instead of leaving them whole. Also, worms need grit in the soil so give them eggshells. Don’t worry about rinsing first either! Oyster and clam shells work too, just crush ‘em first.
#5…Deeper is not better. Red Worms are emperors of composting and consume rotting organic materials. Therefore they enjoy a more shallow depth with room to move side to side over a smaller circumference that is very deep. Keep this in mind if making your own worm bin. A plastic container like the ones I use will make for happier worms than those living in buckets.
#6…Baby worm eggs look like tiny little lemons. If you have discovered these little tan-ish beads in your bin don’t freak out thinking some kinda miniature alien species abducted some of your worms and left you creepy souvenirs. Be excited that your worms are so happy they are making more worms for you! Too many worms? Start another bin, add some to your garden and flower beds or give them to a friend =)
#7…Worms can survive the apocalypse. Ok, maybe I don’t know this for sure but what I do know is I completely ignored my worms. Now I know I can’t blame having twins on all my shortcomings but I figure I can until they are 1 year old, so I only have a few months left to use this excuse! Long story short I left my worms alone. All. Winter. Long. Then about a month ago I went to my bin, opened it up only to discover a pile of black gold and tiny worms wormin’ about. My hubbie thought I was way to excited about this.
I hope I’ve inspired you to start turning all your garbage into amazing soil that can enhance everything you put it on. If you homeschool your kiddo’s this project can be a wonderful educational tool. Heck, brick & mortar schools can benefit from this!
Do you have any worm-growing tips? Please share =)